Meltworks knows Social Media

My girlfriend has gotten me hooked on the latest reality show, “America’s Next Great Restaurant.” The idea is that a group of people compete to have the show’s judges – or investors – back them in opening their short-service restaurant.

Now, normally I don’t bother telling you about the shows I watch, because frankly who cares? (Everyone on being the exception.) However, something happened recently with one of the former contestants and I that I have to tell you about.

Meltworks was a restaurant idea on the show, created by Eric Powell. Their primary food? Grilled Cheese. I love cheese, and grilled cheeses in particular. As I watched the show, judges kept asking, “What’s stopping people from making their own grilled cheese at home?” To which my Girlfriend and I kept screaming at the TV, “Because people are lazy!” or, “Because people only have crappy American cheese in their refrigerators!”

Motivated by angst, I gave Meltworks a shout-out on the aforementioned GetGlue:

Must say, @Meltworks is the only restaurant in the bunch I really want to go eat at right now. @GetGlue

That wound up being posted on Twitter. And you know what? He wrote back!

@ciaoenrico Thank you! Means a lot. Hopefully you have a chance to dine with us soon.

That’s pretty impressive to me. He did not send out a canned, “Thank you for your support” tweet. He could have, and no one would have blamed him. He got a lot of mentions from being on that show. Instead he took the time to respond, and not just to me. All of the people who mentioned him got a response from him.

Do you put that kind of time into Twitter? Sure, you may not be on a show that gets as much buzz. Still, how long do you really spend connecting with people, 1-on-1, with social media?

Eric was eventually voted off, and we were bummed. After cancelling the show from our DVR, I signed up for Meltworks’ e-mail updates on its website. Two nifty things here:

1) The email sign-up form allowed me to send a personal message.

2) He actually responded to my message! Again, not with a canned message, but addressing what I wrote to Meltworks initially!

Eric, [me]

Thanks for checking out our website and for offering some suggestions. Yeah, we were limited to those panini presses for the first few episodes, but were able to get some new equipment that was more appropriate for grilled cheese. We’ve had a number of people suggest just using soups as dips. Since we already have soups on the menu, that could make perfect sense for us.

We’re actually back in the test kitchen now working on new ideas for the concept and should be rolling out more news in the next few months. Hopefully we’ll have a Meltworks in the Tempe area soon and you’ll be able to try out our sandwiches in person.

Thanks again!
Eric [him]

And now, the point

People talk all the live-long-day about social media, and how important it is. Then they go out and write a blog, or post things on Twitter or their Facebook Page, and act in the exact opposite way that makes social media work: They do it without being social. They broadcast, but are deaf to any responses.

Here a business owner has created a social media presence, gotten scads of people to write about him, and has actually taken the time to respond. Personally. And I didn’t work out some deal with him saying, “write me back personally and I’ll blog about you.” I’m blogging about the company because he actually bothered to write me back without being prompted. I’m blogging about the company because they’re a good neighbor in the social media world.

If you are planning on using social to promote yourself, take a page from Meltworks’ book: Don’t broadcast your message, respond to other people’s messages.

And if you use a dipping sauce for a grilled cheese sandwich, you’re a philistine. I’m looking at you, Bobby Flay – you like steaks, right? What if I lathered one up with ketchup? Think that would help its taste? No! A steak tastes fine the way it is! Same with a grilled cheese! Moron…

Sorry for the micro-rant.


    1. Great comment – and it’s funny you say that. While most people prefer Facebook, I’ve always felt Twitter was superior because it was so stripped down: 140 characters, say what you need to fast, respond to anyone you can find. Facebook has the advantage of a low number of connections, since there’s a two-way approval process. It means you likely already know who you’re talking to when you have an exchange with one of your contacts. But that also means you’re probably not hearing anything really new from them.

      Twitter on the other hand relies on reaching out to – and hearing back from – complete strangers. Right now you can post a tweet to anyone from President Obama to Howard Stern. They may answer, they may not – but they are available to you. If they do answer back, that’s when the magic happens.

      I have a number of friends I actually only know via Twitter. (Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure.)

      I owe my current job to Twitter: I met my current boss while we were both making fun of a speaker at a social media conference who hilariously referred to, “The Twitter.” (I know – a speaker at a social media conference, who thinks it’s called, “The Twitter.” What a tool!)

      Now I have been able to directly contact someone I only knew through TV, offer my support, and know he heard it.

      In short, Twitter works best when you abandon shyness and force yourself to talk to strangers.

  1. I actually found your blog through Twitter! (thanks for the follow, by the way – @maxeyha) I agree, it’s a great promotion tool, but only if it’s used correctly. Shallow as it sounds, the whole reason I joined Twitter was because I was hoping to follow my favorite bands and connect with them through a Tweet! Your post helped me understand that this is exactly why people should join. Thanks for sharing your insight!

      1. Oh, there are lots! I’ve followed Ben Folds’ Twitter for a while, and he seems to reply occasionally to fans. I follow smaller bands like Ra Ra Riot and Telekinesis, and big ones like Mumford & Sons and Coldplay. No responses yet, but I’m going to keep trying!

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